Max Kurz’s 47-year coaching career was dotted by championships. As a boys cross country and track coach and a girls cross country coach at Millard, Millard South and Millard West, his teams won three state championships, finished second nine times and in the top four 21 times. His boys track team claimed one state title and seven top-four finishes. He was named the Metro Conference track and cross country Coach of the Year 14 times before his retirement in 2017.
Scottsbluff (Class of 1954)
The Nebraska High School Athlete of the Year in 1954, Knaub was a four-year letterman in track and a two-year letterman in football and basketball, earning all-conference and all-state honors. On the track, he established three state records and won all-class gold medals in the pole vault his sophomore and junior seasons and in the long jump his junior year. Knaub won the state pentathlon as a senior, but was injured at the state track meet. He helped UCLA win the NCAA championship in 1956 and won two conference long jump championships. He competed in the 1956 Olympic Trials in the long jump.
Athlete. It may have been said that some were faster, some were stronger and some may have shot a basketball better, but few athletes had as much impact on the outcome of competition as Jeff Kinney, a 1968 graduate of McCook High School. His reputation began in his high school days within Red Willow County where he was a hard-running all-stater in football, a state tournament basketball player and a track standout. His competitiveness came to the forefront as one of the best weapons on the Cornhusker national championship teams of 1970 and 1971. Football fans still discuss his outstanding play in the “Game of the Century“ against mighty Oklahoma where he carried the ball on all but one play in Nebraska’s game-winning drive. Subsequently, he played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills in professional football.
A 30-year basketball coaching career started in Gering in 1957, continued (in 1966) for 15 years at Omaha Benson and finished with five years with Omaha Central’s girls. He was 118-51 at Gering, 199-98 at Benson with six district titles, two state tournament runner-up finishes, seven Metropolitan Conference championships and four Metro Holiday titles. Class A runner-up finish in 1981 and 57-48 with Central. The 1951 Bridgeport graduate earned nine letters in football, basketball and track in high school and seven letters in football and track at Chadron State.
Tonya Kneifl Gordon
For four years, Tonya Kneifl put her stamp on athletics at Newcastle High School. A multi-sport star, she had her biggest impact on the track where she never lost a high jump or triple jump competition. She set state records in all three jumping events and accumulated 12 Class D and two all-class gold medals at the state meet, scoring a record 148 points. In basketball, she started all 91 games, earning second-team all state as a freshman and first -team honors the next three years. She scored 1,987 points and led Newcastle to the 1994 Class D2 state championship. In volleyball, she set the school record for kills despite missing her freshman year with a broken ankle. At the University of South Dakota, she was a nine-time Divison II All-American.
Athlete. When only a sophomore at Omaha Northwest High School this star on the hardwood was already one of the best basketball players in the state. It was obvious from the start that he could shoot the basketball. By his graduation in 1982, Ron Kellogg had compiled a career total of 1,644 points. As a consistent indicator, he averaged 24.5 points per game in both his sophomore and senior years. He did well always, whether in state tournament play or in practice. Selected twice during his high school days as all-state, he spent his college days as an outstanding player for the Kansas Jayhawks, starting all four years.
Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star 1983
athlete of the year was All-class all-state in football in 1983 and a
three-time all-state pick in Class C-2. Henderson won state titles in 1981
and 1983. In 2004, he still held the 11-man state records for career scoring
(672) and touchdowns (94). His 42 touchdowns and 311 points in 1983 ranked
in the top 10 in the nation. In basketball, the two-time all-stater
helped Henderson to a 25-0 state championship season in 1984. Henderson won
the Class C state track title in 1983 as he ran on a state record-setting 400
relay. Punted three years for Nebraska.
Dan Keyser presided over a Cambridge Trojans football dynasty that produced an unprecedented era of success. Keysers Trojans set a Nebraska 11 man record with 48 consecutive victories and put together a streak of 71 straight regular season wins. Between 1989 and 2005 Keyser led the Trojans to six undefeated state football championships and two other championship games. Twice he was selected as the Nebraska Coaches Association Coach of the Year, and two other times he received the same honor from Huskerland Prep Report. He also guided Cambridge to two state track championships-as a head coach in 2005 and assistant coach in 1994. An Arnold High School graduate Keyser coached at Lodgepole and Wood River before coming to Cambridge. He finished his 26-year football coaching career with a 198-51 record.
Athlete. The attraction is to the weight events for many strong young men in high school. Many double in the events, but rarely do they reach star status in both the shot put and discus throw. Marty Kobza of Schuyler Central High School made it, big time, especially in 1981. His top throw in the shot put reached 66’11 1/2″, plus he was the first in history to reach 200 feet in the discus. His boys state meet toss of 201-7 toss became the all-time record at the time. Named high school athlete of the year, his discus throw was second best in the entire nation in 1981. Later, while at Arkansas in college, he was six times an All-American and a member of the World University Team in 1985.
Athlete. A prep All-American in football in 1959, John Kirby earned all-class and Class C all-state honors in football his junior and senior years. In 1960, Kirby was a Shrine Bowl captain. He also started for two years on the David City St. Mary basketball team that in those two seasons accumulated a record of 34-8. In track Kirby scored in five events at the state track meet. In 1960, he had the best discus throw in the state in all classes. Kirby chose to play football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and was a 1963 captain. In 1964 he played in the Senior Bowl game and was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. After playing with the Vikings from 1964 to 1968, Kirby played for the New York Giants from 1969 to 1971